1974 Morgan Plus 8
Morgan is one of the most unique and iconic motoring brands of all time. This British family-owned company was founded in 1910 by Henry Frederick Stanley Morgan. Henry Morgan used to work for the Great Western Railway but quit his job in 1904 to pursue his passion for the automobile. He co-founded a motor sales and servicing garage in Malvern Link and in 1909 he designed and built his first car. A year later production started and the company prospered. A little-known fact is that Henry Morgan had developed the first independent front suspension a few years earlier.
The first Morgans were all three wheelers. Production grew fast and by the start of World War I around a thousand Morgan three wheelers had been produced. World War I put a stop to the production but it resumed quickly thereafter. It wasn’t until 1935 that Morgan produced its first four wheel car. It was named the 4/4, meaning four seats and four wheels.
The three wheelers were eventually phased out in 1952 by which time Morgan had introduced a bigger engined, high performance car, designated the Plus 4 to be produced alongside the 4/4. Subsequently Morgan introduced the Plus 4 Plus and whilst each of their models continued to evolve, during the late fifties and early to mid-sixties Morgan was seen to be “stale and producing more of the same” and many pundits thought the brand was indeed “dated and may fade away”.
In 1959 Henry Morgan passed away and his son Peter Morgan took over the business.
In addition to the challenge of reinventing the Morgan brand, Peter Morgan faced the problem of a decreasing availability of large four cylinder engines to be used in the Plus 4. In 1967 Rover had acquired the rights to produce the Buick 215 cui V8 engine. Peter Morgan quickly struck a deal with Rover to supply him with the ‘new’ V8 engine, now produced as a 3.5 litre Rover engine. The Plus 4 chassis was altered and in 1968 Morgan introduced the Plus 8. The car received critical acclaim when first shown at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1968 and it quickly put Morgan back on the map as a maker of high performance sports cars. The first production cars were built in late 1968 and the 3.5 litre (3528 cc) Rover V8 engine was good for 160 bhp that propelled the car to a top speed of 125mph, however, it was how it got there that had people excited. It was clocked by magazines in period from 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds and could accelerate from 0-100 mph, quicker than a 4.2 litre Jaguar E-Type!
The car continued to evolve and Morgan Plus 8 production finally ceased in 2004 after 37 years, during which 6,233 cars were built. Just an incredible story really!
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale this one owner, incredibly original 1974 Morgan Plus 8. This car is confirmed as a rare Australian delivered, factory right hand drive example (there weren’t many!) that was originally ordered through Morgan Sports Car Distributors (Australia) in Gisborne, Victoria on the 1st July 1974.
The story for this car starts in 1972. The current owner, who was at that time living in South Africa, had seen the new Morgan Plus 8 and had his mind set on owning one. He contacted the London agent for Morgan Cars, Morris Stapleton Motors, and enquired about the possibility of purchasing a Morgan Plus 8. He also contacted Angela Heinz, the franchise holder for the Morgan Motor Company in South Africa. The reply he received from both was pretty much the same. They were more than happy to sell him a new Plus 8, but unfortunately due to strikes in the UK, production delays and a strong demand for the new car, delivery time was somewhere between 12 and 15 months.
By that time the current owner was making plans to move back home so he started looking at the possibility of buying a Plus 8 in Australia. Wheels magazine had just published an article about a Plus 8 and he approached them to see if that car was for sale. He also contacted Victor Kaye, the director of Morgan Sports Car Distributors (Australia) in Gisborne, Victoria, to discuss the purchase of a new Morgan Plus 8.
In April 1974 an order was placed for a new Morgan Plus 8 through Morgan Sports Car Distributors (Australia). The car was expected to be delivered in March 1975. Whilst the order had been placed, it was in a subsequent letter dated 31st May 1974 that the owner confirmed he wanted his new Morgan finished in deep brunswick green with beige leather upholstery. The car was ordered with a tonneau cover, seat belts, undersealing, a rear bumper bar, a lockable petrol cap, lockable door handles, an external mirror and spare paint. The total cost for the car as ordered was $6,915, including import duties and taxes. A receipt on file dated 16th June 1974 for the initial deposit confirms the order. Further communication between the owner and Morgan Sports Car Distributors (Australia) confirms the order number for his car is 350.
In September 1974 the owner went on an overseas trip and he was able to visit the Morgan factory whilst he was in the UK. He spent a whole day in the factory and was lucky enough to see his car, which at that time was a rolling chassis, ready to be fitted with the body and mudguards. Following his visit to the factory he did decide to change a few things with his car. The colour was changed to silver and the upholstery was changed to black leather.
Further correspondence on file shows that Morgan Sports Car Distributors (Australia) wanted to use the car for the 1975 Melbourne Motor Show. Given the long lead time, the owner was keen on getting his car so he declined the offer and the distributor ended up using a second hand Morgan Plus 8 at the motor show.
An excited owner finally took delivery of his new Morgan Plus 8 on the 4th February 1975. The car was registered in Victoria as IAQ 761. A letter on file dated 10th February 1975 shows that he drove the car back to his home in Brisbane, Queensland.
Unfortunately, three months later some problems had surfaced with the car. It had travelled only 1,800 miles and rust stains started to appear along most of the joins on the body. The owner was now quite disillusioned with his Morgan Plus 8 and he wrote directly to Peter Morgan. He received a prompt reply from Peter Morgan who wrote that he was very sorry to hear about the issues and together with Morgan Sports Car Distributors (Australia) he made sure the issues were addressed. All the necessary repairs were completed by Tingalpa Motor Body Works in Brisbane at total cost of $245. At that time the owner chose to have the guards and running boards painted in gun metal grey.
In February 1976 the Morgan was registered in QLD as ORD 333, a registration it still carries today.
There is a huge history file that accompanies the car which clearly shows that it has been extensively maintained throughout its life. There is a complete overview of who serviced the car during which period and lots of correspondence between the owner and various other parties with regards to his car.
Today the odometer reads 65,323 miles and the car drives as well as the day it left the Morgan factory in the UK.
The fun starts in a Morgan Plus 8 when you turn the key. You need the choke to start from cold and with the carburettors primed the engine on this car starts easily . . . and with a roar. You’re kind of expecting MG TC but you get an Aston Martin V8 sounding rumble! This Morgan has power to burn and it just goes about its business when you accelerate hard. Make no mistake this is a fast car in a straight line!
We have had the privilege to handle a few Morgan Plus 8’s over the years and they are great fun cars. We all know Morgans are ‘raw’ and that’s really part of the charm of the car. You go hard in a straight line and proceed with some caution around corners, particularly when the road surface is bumpy! That said the handling on this car is precise and the car steers and stops as one would expect. The engine pulls very strongly through the rev range and the gearbox changes up and down in a businesslike manner. Out on the open road this car is just a real pleasure to drive.
Cosmetically the car presents as a ‘nice driver’. The paint work is nearly 50 years old and it is showing its age. There is crazing on the bonnet, a few cracks on the front cowl and it is faded in certain areas, but It just has the patina of a nice original car. Apart from the initial repairs shortly after the car arrived in Australia, this car has never been repainted. It has not had any accidents, despite it having been used as Peter Morgan intended the Plus 8 to be . . . and that is to be driven. The car has been used for club events, long trips as well as the occasional hill climb and tarmac rally. The windscreen, aeroscreen and external trim is in good condition. The chrome is original and it shows some light pitting in places.
The engine bay is clean, though very original as you will see from the photographs.
The interior presents well for a car which is now 47 years old. The seats have been retrimmed and they are still firm and supportive. The dash, instruments and controls are all in good condition and working order.The car comes with side screens, a tonneau cover and a soft top which are all in good condition, and surprisingly for a Morgan they all fit really well!
The delivery invoice on file confirms that this car retains its original ‘matching numbers’ engine.
- a rare Australian delivered, factory RHD example.
- offered from single ownership of 47 years!
- a totally original car that has been used and very well maintained.
- the car runs and drives exceptionally well.
- an incredible history file dating back to 1974, which includes correspondence with Morgan prior to the car even being ordered.
- original owners manual, sales brochures and other documentation.
As the saying goes ‘. . . it’s only original once’. It would be impossible to find another one like this!
- Morgan Plus 8
- 65,323 miles